Protest Alleging Improper Procurement Procedures and Practices

B-204084,B-204085,B-204085.3,B-204085.6: May 3, 1982

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Three firms protested the award of any contract under an invitations for bids (IFB) issued by the General Services Administration (GSA) for electric typewriters. The IFB specified that GSA would select the awardee using a life-cycle cost formula. The firms contended individually that: (1) the testing procedures and results used by GSA were prejudicial; (2) since the testing did not reflect actual costs, the award scheme would not result in savings to the Government; (3) limiting competition to typewriters tested by GSA unfairly prevented participation in the procurement; (4) GSA should be estopped from conducting these procurements, because it had stated that participation in the testing program would not be a prerequisite; (5) the prior testing requirement unfairly precluded the offering of a new model; (6) the IFB residual value component should be deleted; and (7) the operating costs of typewriters obtained from the testing should be released before bid opening. GAO found that the contention that data gathered from testing were invalid was without merit because: (1) the protester's records corresponded to GSA records; (2) other firms used comparable service technicians; (3) the sample size was not shown to be unreasonably small and the sample selection procedure was not improper; and (4) GSA did not cause key-top failures on the protester's typewriters. GAO also found that: (1) the determination by GSA not to use historical data in the cost formula was not an abuse of discretion; (2) the restriction of competition to models tested by GSA was reasonable; (3) where an assertion that the testing program would not be a prerequisite was unsupported, the protester did not carry its burden of proof; (4) the contention that GSA intended to limit future typewriter procurements and did not permit substitution of its model was not supported by evidence; (5) the contention that the cost formula's value factor was too speculative and favored one vendor was without merit; and (6) the disclosure before bid opening of the vendors' operating cost data and residual value was not required for intelligent bidding. Accordingly, the protests were denied.